So. Africa: Report claims emission levels from Eskom’s coal-powered plants exceed statutory limits; includes company’s comments’

Author: John Yeld, GroundUp, Published on: 25 February 2019

“Damning report on Eskom air pollution” 26 February 2019

Over a period of 21 months, Eskom’s coal-fired power plants belched pollutants that exceeded South Africa’s already weak air quality standards close to 3,200 times, sometimes by as much as 15 times the legal limit. The excessive emissions include particulate matter (PM), sulphur oxides (SO2), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). The figures – a conservative estimate drawn from the power utility’s own monthly air quality reports, as submitted to environmental authorities – show that nearly all its coal-fired plants are possibly operating illegally and that Eskom’s pollution control measures are not working. Many of the excessive emissions were frequent at particular plants.

Eskom acknowledges there are periods when statutory emission levels are exceeded. However, it argues, this does not constitute illegal non-compliance. Excessive emissions often arise from plant start-up, shut-down or “upset conditions”, which are­ unplanned, unexpected or sudden incidents. A grace period of 48 to 72 hours is allowed for this in terms of its Atmospheric Emission Licenses (AEL). Eskom denies that there have been thousands of emission standard violations and says the count is “significantly overstated” because of “a number of errors”.

… The Life After Coal campaign said that if Eskom could not comply with South Africa’s already-weak minimum emission standards, the offending power stations should be decommissioned “and an inclusive, transparent, and just transition plan put in place to support workers and their families”. Responding to the report, Eskom said it “will evaluate the deficiencies picked up by Dr Sahu and address these to ensure that reported information is clear, accurate and in line with the requirements of the licensing authorities”.

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Related companies: Eskom